By: Kelsey Houlihan 11'
Jackie Nicora has three sisters (Stephanie, 27, Catherine, 25, and Maria, 18) all of whom she describes as her, "biggest cheerleaders", but it was her father's influence and experience playing baseball with the boys that first got her interested in playing softball. "I do not think I would be playing softball if it was not for my father. I played baseball until I was 12 years old, and my dad finally talked me in to trying out for a club softball team. I was reluctant to go, but ended up making the team. If I did not tryout that day my softball career probably would have ended right there."
Luckily for Bronco softball fans, Nicora's career continued to flourish. In her senior season at Robert Louis Stevenson High School in Monterey, Calif., Nicora was selected as a member of the All Mission Trail Athletic League Team and named the Monterey County Softball Player of the Year. Last season, as a junior at Santa Clara, she was named to the Pacific Coast Softball Conference All-Coastal Division First Team, and as she prepares for her senior season as a Bronco, Nicora stands poised to continue down that path of success.
In addition to batting .285 and leading the team in sacrifice bunts (6) last season, Nicora also posts impressive numbers in the classroom with a 3.85 GPA majoring in Economics, which garnered her a spot on the Gold Student Athlete Honor Roll and Dean's List (top 10% of entire senior class).
Nicora describes time management as the crucial aspect in balancing academics and a Division I sport, but also emphasizes the importance of taking time to relax, "I do not think I would be able to survive if I did not try to take at least a 30 minute nap every day." Prioritizing time to sleep ensures Nicora the energy she needs to excel on a day-to-day basis, but she also has been known to rejuvenate her spirit by spending time with friends and sporting a "parrot head" hat at Jimmy Buffet concerts. Nicora is clearly skilled at balancing many extracurricular activities in addition to maintaining focus in the classroom and on the diamond.
Undoubtedly, this dedication spurs from her family's commitment to her success, "My parents drove me to all my practices which were at least an hour away, and I do no think they missed a single high school game. One summer, my older sister Stephanie went to every tournament with me all across the country. It was one really long road trip!"
Nicora didn't limit her family's spectator options however. Over the years she played tennis, gymnastics and soccer in addition to softball. "I was thinking about playing both soccer and softball in college, but then realized that it was probably time for me to pick one to focus on. When I was recruited by SCU to play softball I fell in love with the school and decided that it would be the best fit for me."
After playing in so many baseball and softball games herself, Nicora is also an avid fan. "I am an Oakland A's fan and was disappointed in their performance this year. But I know they will be better next year. I have to say that I was surprised the Giants made it to the World Series. And although I am not a huge Giants fan, I am happy they are doing well. I feel like I should root for a Bay Area team. The Giants are hot right now, have a great pitching staff and are finally producing runs. You never know, this might be the first World Series the Giants win in San Francisco. As all of my friends are telling me, you should 'Fear the Beard!'"